Archive for Rated PG-13

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PodCastle 688: Aeaea on the Seas

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Aeaea on the Seas

by Hester J. Rook

“Oh, go to the crows,” I snarled under my breath as the knocker slammed home. The door was supposed to be a discouragement to visitors, large and heavy and dark, the handle made up of a curl of iron shaped like a beautiful maiden with fanged dogs at her thighs, eye tormented. Scylla, in the form I’d turned her into so many years ago: Remember my power. Do not come to me lightly.

But no, there it was again, a rapping that echoed through the old house.

“What’s wrong, flower?” Her voice was strangled down the phone.

“Don’t worry, darling. I just have a visitor.”

She chuckled, low and dry. “I really need to teach you my old trick for dealing with them.”

“You forget, my love. I have my own tricks.” (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 686: Guardian of the Gods


Guardian of the Gods

by Tobi Ogundiran

Ashâke shed her priestly raiment and slid into the river.

The water was surprisingly warm against her skin, like falling into the embrace of a mother. Ashâke liked to think that the divine cocoon of the river goddess herself embraced her, and if she listened carefully, she could just hear Osun revealing deep mysteries.

Ashâke muttered an invocation: “Osun iya mi. Iya olodo, iya ajose ati iloyun, iya arewa ati ife. Ba mi soro. Si ona okan re kio si se afihan kayefi re.

She sighed. The gods, like always, were deaf to her supplication. The other acolytes had long since been able to commune with the gods, to divine knowledge from the arbitrary patterns of cowrie-shells across divination boards. Soon they would choose their patron gods and become full priests, and eventually get sent out to other temples across the ten kingdoms. They would leave her, forever an acolyte, forever deaf to the gods. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 684: In the Dim Below

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


In the Dim Below

by Teresa Milbrodt

This had been the routine since I was born, bombs coming every few years, or every few months, whenever there was another reason for everyone on one side of the river to get mad at everyone on other other side of the river, or vice versa. The sirens blew and we had to go inside, or down below, until the blasts stopped, the smoke mostly cleared, and we could come up and see what was left of the world.

It was bad when you were a kid. Bombs had no eyes to make decisions, couldn’t tell soldiers from children. Each of us had seen at least one friend’s body carried from a pile of stone that had once been a house. Our parents told us not to worry because they were shooting bombs back across the river to keep us safe. We didn’t know how that was supposed to stop the other bombs, or why faceless enemies imagined us as soldiers instead of friends. Didn’t they have kids on the other side of the river, kids who looked something like us? But we couldn’t ask questions, we just had to find a tiny space where bombs could not find us. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 680: Ashwright

Show Notes

Rated PG-13, with a content warning for rituals for the dead, including children.


Ashwright

by Robert Luke Wilkins

 

The plains town still smouldered, its once-strong gates blackened and ruined, but the bandits were long gone. The townsfolk were gathering the bodies of the dead into a great heap, and though he had caught the smell on the air hours earlier, Moran still arrived in time to see them working.

It was easier if he arrived when they were finished.

One of the men threw an infant girl’s body onto the heap, and Moran turned away as he fought down old memories—it was neither the time nor the place. Today was about their grief.

He walked up to the gates, and waited to be invited in. The townsfolk who noticed him at first threw him strange looks, which came as no surprise. He was a tall man, with a warrior’s build—if he were carrying a sword, he could easily have been mistaken for a bandit himself.

But the muscle was as much a tool of his trade as any he carried, and the robes he wore were unmistakable. Unchanged in more than a century, their gray-trimmed white contrasted with his sun-darkened skin—but the silver that had crept into his brown hair matched them well enough. And beneath it, always hidden, he wore a necklace—a single length of thick black cord that held twenty-seven forged steel pendants.

His heavy pack held all he needed to practice his art. His shovel and long-handled sledgehammer were tied together across the top beneath a rolled blanket, and the mighty bronze hammer’s head leaned the entire pack a little sideways. A broad brass pestle and two copper pots were tied beneath with rough brown cord, and they clattered as he walked.

It never took people long to realize who he was—and today was no exception. The whispers grew, crept from mouth to ear, and soon enough the Town Elder came out to meet him.

“You’re Ashwright.”

(Continue Reading…)